A Renton man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle for lying to federal agents about involvement in a fraud scheme carried out by a former drainage district commissioner in Enumclaw. An indictment alleges the commissioner and his wife defrauded taxpayers of $468,165 in total.
According to the plea agreement, the 63-year-old Renton man, Darrell Winston, told FBI agents that he was hired by former Drainage District Commissioner Allan Thomas to clean some of the drainage ditches, when in fact they did little or no work. King County paid Winston over $50,000 for fake invoices for the cleaning work, most of the money Winston paid to Thomas and his wife, Joann Thomas, who used it for personal benefit.
As previously reported by The Enumclaw Courier-Herald, on Sept. 20 the couple was charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft and four counts of money laundering. They were first charged with one count of mail fraud in September 2019.
Allen Thomas was long-time commissioner of the drainage district, consisting of 18 miles of ditches in Enumclaw to prevent flooding. The couple originally used a company under their son’s name to withdraw tax dollars, claiming it was for drainage ditch maintenance, and used the funds for personal expenses including their farm.
According to Dept. of Justice, in 2018 the couple became aware of the investigation and began instead funneling money through Winston’s company City Biz. Winston’s sentencing is Dec. 18.
Previous reporting on this case can be found at courierherald.com.